Around 5:30 a.m. we took off from Peter’s house towards the Panamanian Paradise called San Blas by the Spaniard, or Kuna Yala by their righteous indigenous owners. By car we left the city and we got to the protected indigenous territory, with the sun rising on our right side, and the marvelous hills covered by dense tropical forest. Sporadically tucan birds would fly on our side, accompanied by curious monkeys that would get their morning snack from the leafy trees.
How much did it cost?
We paid two dollars to enter the protected territory, and constant calls from our indigenous contact, reminded us that we had to hurry to meet him by the river to take the boat to the island (Isla Aguja) where we would spend the rest of the day. In a group of about 10 people, we were charged 15 USD each, which added to 5 USD of gas, made a great total of 22 USD (Thanks Rolo!) plus whatever food/snacks we brought (one can also arrange to have some lobster to be freshly caught and cooked -price: very cheap I suppose).
As of late December in Panama, dry season winds start blowing from the north, so in the Caribbean coast, one may get some sprinkling from the sky. It was overcast for some good portion of the morning, and it even sprinkled a bit. However, as the afternoon progressed, the sun started to shine making the green palm trees, yellowish sand and turquoise water of the Caribbean contrast in an amazing spectacle of colors.
So what did we do in such a small Island for 6 hours?
Nothing. Just chilled, swam some in the ocean, spoke sense and non-sense with friends, had some pipa (green coconut) juice, laughed, ate, played some Judge-Mafia-Doctor game introduced to us by Galileo. In summary we just had a great time. The time spent at the Island has definitely become a part of my list of happy thoughts.
At some point in the afternoon while the sun was shinning, I went for some snorkeling with Peter. We saw plenty of corals at the reef and even some scary barracudas that were lurking around us. Their looks said something like “Stay away from my food or I will byte your balls!”. The highlight of the day was definitely swimming in the middle of an enormous school of fish. The fish shone with the sunlight at a certain angle, exuding a bright silver color. They looked a lot like the ones that point Dory and Nemo’s dad towards the East Australian Current in the movie Finding Nemo. It was amazing to see how the whole group of fish reacted as a single organism as I moved my hands or swam around them.
The “not so” difficult road
The road from the city towards Darien is quite good. We took a deviation towards the north. Half of the road was in good condition, it had been recently filled with gravel, and about half of it was all not-so-soft mud. Since it had been raining that night, some parts of it were quite difficult. We had no problems on the way over (it only took us about 2-2.5 hours from Panama City to the river were we took the boat to the Island), but on the way back, Galo’s Dad car, a Rexton, could not make it on the way up to LOMA IGUANA. Thankfully, Peter’s dad car -a Nissan PAtrol- was equipped with a hitch, practically towed up the Rexton all the way to the top of the mountain. The reason: the Rexton would not get its 4WD working properly. When we startedto tow up the car, the last rays of light shone on us for a few minutes but the whole adventure took place in the dark.
On the way back we saw some nightly creatures such as wild rabbits and other small mammals (maybe anteaters?), but no monkeys at all =(. The journey closed with a spectacular view of the sky with zero light pollution. Living in the concrete jungle for a couple of years, I had forgotten how many stars the sky actually has.
Pictures of the day